Yesterday I was in a meeting at our central office with people that have the expertise to produce short videos for our College that characterise us.
We tossed around the idea of being “more than a school”… in terms of our values and desire for what our children experience and what they become.
This is very much what I was speaking to the thirteen students who accompanied Mrs Phipps and I on a recent trip to our sister schools in Surabaya and Jakarta. The trip was open to anyone who wanted to attend and our group comprised mainly Year Seven and Eight students and some from Years Nine, Ten, and 11.
Let me give a brief breakdown of our days:
Day 1: We arrived at Elyon Christian school in Surabaya and were welcomed at an assembly, given special morning tea and travelled to the centre of Surabaya with our Indonesian Buddies to visit the National Museum of Independence. From there we went on a riverboat to inspect mangrove swamp reconstruction (and a snake eating a guinea pig, uugh).
Day 2: We spent the morning helping at Althea Christian school for underprivileged kids. Then travelled back to Elyon School cafeteria for lunch and then students joined sport and music making classes in the afternoon. The evening meal was at the most fantastic shopping mall food hall I’ve ever seen!
Day 3: We drove to the village for Batik making in the morning, then watched local silversmiths work. We enjoyed a special farewell dinner with buddies and Elyon school leaders and teachers that night. It was overwhelming how close all the students had become.
Day 4: We flew to Jakarta and drove to the hilltop town of Bandung.
Day 5: We visited a smoking volcano, swam in hot springs, then drove back in torrential rain to Jakarta to meet our homestay families.
Day 6: We accompanied students in classes at Kairos Christian school. Students ate at various exotic locations with their homestay families.
Day 7: Students enjoyed a Maths and Science exhibition day at school during morning. Then spent the afternoon visiting a mission orphanage.
Day 8: We visited a safari and uncaged animals park, had lunch at an outdoor restaurant in Bogor then headed to Mini-Indonesia theme park. We all gathered together for a farewell dinner with homestay families at one person’s home.
Day 9: Returned to Australia.
For a young group of students our team was characteristically adventurous, friendly and supportive, resilient (they put up with and overcame a number of challenges), and above all - were great ambassadors for our country and college.
The trip wasn’t about them having a holiday, it was about them having a transformational experience. They developed understanding and empathy, they had to understand and embrace foreign culture and make friends across that gap.
I watched students build friendships, face daunting challenges with courage, respond with compassion and consideration and help one another. They returned to Australia different people. This is just one reason why …we’re more than a school and they’re more than students.
Jeremiah 29:11-12 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Mr Rod McNeill